SILVESTRE DE SACY, Antoine Isaac

SILVESTRE DE SACY, Antoine Isaac (baron). Paris 21.9.1758 — Paris 21.2.1838. French Oriental (Arabic and Persian) Scholar. Professor in Paris. Son of a notary in a Jansenist Jewish family, lost early his father. Never visited Asia, but found native language teachers in France. From 1795 until his death Professor of Vulgar Arabic at É.L.O.V. (but taught only literary language). In 1806-38 also Professor of Persian at Collège de France. Member of A.I.B.L. 1792. He was the most famous Arabic and Persian scholar of his times and attracted a great number of students from all over Europe to Paris. He had taught early Indologists (such as Chézy and Garçin de Tassy) and kept some interest for India, too. It was his achievement that Collège de France in 1814 decided to establish chairs of Sanskrit and Chinese (for Chézy and Abel-Remusat). In an early work in 1793 he had succeeded in deciphering the Middle Persian Sassanian inscriptions. Also Champollion was his student and protegé.

Publications: Arabic grammar (1810) and chrestomathy (1806), Arabic and Persian text editions (e.g. Calila et Dimna. 1816) and translations, also much on history, in sum more than 450 publications.

Mémoires sur divers antiquités de la Perse, et sur les médailles des rois de la dynastie des Sassanides. Paris 1793; Lettre à M. Millin sur les monuments Persépolitaines. Paris 1803 (on Grotefend’s decipher­ment); “Mémoire sur les monumens et les inscriptions de Kirmanschah et de Bi-sutoun, et sur divers autres monumens Sassanides”, Hist. et Mém. de l’Inst. de France 2, 1815, 162-242, 2 pl..

Review of Malcolm’s Central India, JS 1825, 67-79, 195-204; of Tod’s Annals and Antiquities, JS 1830, 643-657 & 1831, 65-81, 225-238.

Sources: *D. Baggioni, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 901f.; Fück, Arabische Studien; S. Larzul, D.O.L.F. 896-898; Wikipedia with portrait.

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